Real Name: Leo Joseph Koury
Aliases: Mike Decker
Wanted For: Murder, Attempted Murder, Arson, Fraud, Extortion
Missing Since: October 30, 1978
Details: Businessman Leo Koury was placed on the FBI's Ten Most wanted for murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to kidnap, extortion, assault, racketeering, fraud and arson; he is a fugitive on the run from the law and has not been seen since October 1978.
On March 19, 1975, a bodyguard and bouncer named Chuck Kernaghan was reportedly murdered in his home in Richmond, Virginia. His body was placed in a trunk, driven to the Rappahannock River, weighed down with the bumper from a '57 Chevrolet, and thrown off the side of a boat. This information is based on police informants, as his body has never been found. Authorities believe Koury was responsible for this contract killing. During this time, Koury was also a softball coach, church volunteer, loving husband and father, and member of the American Legion. Many who knew him were surprised to learn of his alleged criminal activities.
Koury was a successful restaurant owner who was fiercely competitive. He was one of the first to open nightclubs in Richmond that catered to the gay community. He allegedly tried to drive out competitors in several ways. First, he had Chuck, who worked for a rival bar, killed. Next, he sent "thugs" to terrorize the patrons of the rival establishments. On January 15, 1977, two of Koury's "thugs" shot multiple patrons at the Male Box restaurant. One man, Albert Thomas, was killed and several others were injured. An investigation revealed that Koury was at the center of an extensive racketeering enterprise. In other words, he ran an organization whose primary income was through illegal purposes, whether it be fraud, extortion, or murder.
While the FBI suspected that Koury was responsible, they could not indict him because his "inner circle" was extremely loyal. They learned that he and his men often targeted vulnerable groups such as the local gay community as victims of his scams and extortions. In October 1977, he asked Eddie Loehr to make a hit on restaurant owner Jim Hilliard. His scheme backfired, however, when authorities found Loehr hiding outside of Hilliard's home. Loehr confessed to the police and named Koury as the man who hired him. He said that Koury wanted Hilliard dead to remove him from competition in the restaurant business.
Loehr agreed to work with the FBI. He was equipped with a hidden microphone and the FBI secretly recorded a conversation with Koury for their investigation. During the conversation, he told Loehr to not tell anyone about their "business". Based on the surveillance tapes, on October 31, 1978, Koury was indicted by a grand jury on various charges, including the murders of Chuck and Albert. However, he vanished from the Richmond area on October 30, the day before the indictment was made. He apparently left with $1 million in the trunk of his car. It has been suspected that he may have been tipped off about the charges. On April 20, 1979, he was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list. He has been on the run ever since.
Since his disappearance, Koury has been sighted on the East Coast, in Brazil, and the Middle East.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on Special #1 on January 20, 1987 in a FBI fugitive roll call. It was covered in more detail in a full segment on the January 18, 1989 episode. It was also featured on America’s Most Wanted.
Results: Solved. On June 16, 1991, a man in failing health calling himself "William Franklin Biddle" was taken by a friend to the Villa View Community Hospital in San Diego, California. The next morning, he died of a cerebral hemorrhage brought on by high blood pressure. The San Diego County public administrator's office was put in charge of searching for his next-of-kin. They learned that he lived in an East San Diego apartment for about ten years and worked part-time at a nearby convenience store. He claimed that he was retired from the International Red Cross and had a small disability pension. However, a search of his apartment turned up no clues to his potential family members.
Five days later, the office received a call from Koury's nephew, who said that he learned from an anonymous call that Koury had died and wanted to claim the body. He said that he might have used a different name since he was a wanted fugitive in Virginia. After he gave the employee Koury's physical description, she realized that Biddle was actually Koury. She immediately contacted the FBI. They made a positive identification through fingerprints and officially closed the case. He was fifty-six at the time of his death.
- Leo Koury on Wikipedia
- Leo Koury FBI Poster
- Va. Businessman On "Most Wanted" List - April 23, 1979
- FBI offers $25,000 for fugitive's capture - June 10, 1988
- 'You Have to Be a Fox to Catch a Fox' : Most Wanted Man Has Eluded FBI for 10 Years - July 3, 1988
- Americans 'help' in search for 10 Most Wanted by FBI - August 26, 1988
- FBI hopes plastic likeness helps bust most wanted fugitive - March 27, 1990
- Most Wanted fugitive eludes FBI for 11 years - October 6, 1990
- Most-Wanted List Fugitive Dies in S.D. - June 22, 1991
- FBI's top fugitive dies in hospital - June 22, 1991
- Leo Koury Dies at 56; Was Fugitive Since '79 - June 23, 1991
- FBI fugitive Leo Koury dies of brain hemorrhage - June 23, 1991
- FBI's top fugitive lived simple life - June 24, 1991
- County Will Seek $25,000 Reward for Identifying Dead Man as Fugitive - June 26, 1991
- Death provided thread that unraveled mystery - July 1, 1991
- The strange case of the missing mobster, "godfather of Richmand's gay community" - January 4, 2018
- The Strange Tale of Leo Koury, ‘Godfather of the Gay Community’ in Richmond, Virginia - November 18, 2020
- Leo Koury at Find a Grave